Of all the places I've traveled, Vietnam is one of the most amazing. From cheap food to friendly locals, it's a must-see destination.
1. Vietnam Is CHEAP
I can't overstate this enough: Food, amenities, lodging, services and the general cost of living in Vietnam is so low it will blow your mind.
I'm presently writing this article in a coffee shop in a suburb of Ho Chi Minh, with a cup of Vietnamese iced coffee on my table that cost $0.86. A bowl of Pho, a signature Vietnamese dish consisting of noodles, delicious broth, herbs and meat, will run you about $1.50. If you really want to splurge, I've seen a few pricier places with $2 bowls. Banh Mi, a Vietnamese sandwich, will run you about $0.75, while an upscale, full-service Korean BBQ meal with all-you-can-eat meat, sauces and vegetables cost me $13.
But the affordable prices don't stop at the food. Taking a Grab (the Asian Uber equivalent) will cost you just a few dollars depending on how far you need to go. A 30-minute trip from where I stayed into the city cost just $5.
Care to travel by plane to the nearest city? Domestic flights consistently run from $40–$60. A full-body, 75-minute, professional massage with hot stones cost me $20.
If you're a traveler on a budget, Vietnam stretches your dollar unbelievably far.
2. Vietnam's Natural Beauty Is Legendary
Nestled just below China and running along the coast of the Pacific Ocean, Vietnam is rife with picturesque views to take in, caves to explore and beaches to Instagram.
Travel North to visit Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site of unparalleled natural beauty. I highly recommend booking a ship to sail through the rocks and take in the beautiful scenery up close!
In southern Vietnam, don't miss Mui Ne, a lovely beach winding along palm trees and resorts. Perfect for windsurfing and sailing, this is the perfect stop for any active traveler wanting to get a taste of the sea.
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3. The People Are Lively and Friendly
While certainly poor and with a long history of conflict, Vietnam seems far happier than it has any right to be. In spite of its relative poverty and stark income inequality, the people of Vietnam have an extremely optimistic, cheerful attitude. Their country has made great progress in its development in the past decade, and it shows.
Walking along the city streets or taking a motorbike along the road, the people are always bustling about their business, hustling to sell their wares at the market or zipping along to deliver their goods. The country has a feeling of pure, unadulterated chaos, but in a good way. There is always so much happening and so much to see and do! If you are visiting from the West, prepare for a shift of perspective.
4. Vietnam Is Safe, But Feels Adventurous
If you are American, the country Vietnam is likely synonymous with the rather controversial Vietnam War of the 1960s and 70s. I'm happy to say that I encountered no animosity or resentment towards Americans during my time there.
In fact, Vietnamese have a more positive view of America than the average American does. And the fact that Vietnam is more pro-America than Israel just blows my mind. This is due, in no small part, to America's continued support in their struggle against Chinese hegemony in the East Sea.
You will see so many strange and interesting things during your time in this Southeastern Asian country. Perhaps one of my favorite spots was a cafe full of fish that swam around your table in an open pool. Feeding them was more fun than feeding myself!
Every moment felt like an adventure because it was filled with new and interesting things that you just won't come across in the West. Even Vietnam's Communist relics—and yes, Vietnam is, at least nominally, a Communist country—were fascinating to see. History books may teach you the facts and show you the pictures, but nothing really compares to seeing it for yourself.
Safe, affordable, beautiful and exciting, Vietnam was an amazing trip for me and I will never forget my experiences there. I hope that you decide to visit, too, and have a similarly wonderful experience!
© 2019 Nu Vew